Fromme Kalender (2) by Koloman Moser - 1899
Fromme Kalender (2) by Koloman Moser - 1899.
Moser’s heavily stylised portrait for ‘Fromme’s Kalendar’ is dominated by the sidelong stare of a mysterious woman whose air of cold clairvoyance is in accord with the artistic temperament of the times. Gazing past the hourglass that she lifts like a sacred chalice or sacrificial offering, this archetypal mystic could easily have been modelled after a young Madame Blavatsky, the Russian occultist philosopher and co-founder of the Theosophical Society, whose esoteric ideas about Ancient Wisdom were shaping the artistic attitudes of everyone from Piet Mondrian to Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky to Hilma af Klint.
Designed in 1899, as an increasingly industrialising world braced itself for the uncertainties of a new century, Moser’s enigmatic portrait vibrates with anxiety about what lies ahead for mankind. To judge from the diminishing volume of sand in the upper bulb of the hourglass, time is quickly running out. As our eyes swivel from that ominous timepiece to the curvilinear ribbons and tresses that flow from the seer’s temples, a cascade that merges into her shadowy physique, we begin to suspect that our elusive woman is less an actual figure in the here-and-now and more a kind of cursive character to be read – a symbol, perhaps even an ancient one, of riddling portent. - BBC
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